You Built a Company – Now Use It to Build a Better World

You did — with all apologies to the President (I kid) — build it.  You built a company.  You invested an enormous amount of time and effort and resources into creating a company and now that company is alive and doing its work.

You built a company.  That’s terrific.  Now the question is: What will you build with it?

With some exceptions (porn companies, for instance), private enterprise delivers numerous social goods.  Companies don’t have to direct funds toward charitable purposes in order to be engaged in doing good.  They already are doing good.  They provide meaningful work, they provide salaries that enable their employees to take care of their families, and they provide helpful services and products.  At their best, companies are people banding together to do something good and redemptive, to participate in the restoration of culture and creation.  But they can do more.  They can harness the talents and treasures their company has assembled and put them behind social transformation.

One of the best examples I know is Avalon Consulting, which has worked with Patheos and other companies to develop enterprise-scale websites.  (I speak as an expert on the interwebs.)  I’ve come to know several of the leaders at Avalon, including Tom Reidy (founder and President) and Casey Green (EVP).  Both are committed Catholics and involved in numerous charitable enterprises.  Tom and his family have been involved for decades in a fantastic ministry called the Working Boys Center in Quito, Ecuador, and yesterday a video came across my desk that explains the work it does:

What I especially love here is the way in which Avalon as a company has gotten involved.  Avalon has won national recognition and earned good money building enterprise-scale websites, and they steer some of their revenue and a lot of their expertise pro bono toward world-changing projects like the Working Boys Center.  As Mitt Romney has said, companies are people too, and often they’re filled with caring and generous people who want to use the resources and experience they’ve gained for good.

Children at the WBC learn trades to provide for themselves.

If you want to support the Working Boys Center, go here.  I’ve been working with an innovative ministry myself — — that will create an online social-media launching pad for charitable projects serving the neediest children in the world, and we would love to have some companies take on an Avalon-like role.  If you think your company might be able to contribute in some way, please see the (placeholder) website or contact me.

When we think of companies that are changing the world for the better, we often think of charitably oriented for-profit enterprises like Toms Shoes, or perhaps companies producing culture-redeeming products like my friend Brent Dusing’s Lightside Games.  But companies that earn good money in exchange for excellent services, and provide meaningful work to people that puts food on their table and a roof over their families’ heads — and then direct their time and talents and treasures to worthy causes — are making a difference too.  I had a friend who was the director of Pfizer’s charitable giving, and they (like many pharmaceutical companies, frequently maligned) were making massive and measurable differences addresses diseases like AIDS in Africa.

So what can your company do?  I’m proud of my friends, Tom and Casey, and hope others are following the same model.  One of our bloggers — you might have heard of her — has encouraged her readers to send notes about the companies they’ve built.  The response has been overwhelming.  In the same vein, please leave a note in the comment about the good work your company is doing.  You built it.  Now build something with the fruit of your labors.  Show that your company is a part of making a better world.

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  • Coleman Glenn

    But companies that earn good money in exchange for excellent services, and provide meaningful work to people that puts food on their table and a roof over their families’ heads — and then direct their time and talents and treasures to worthy causes — are making a difference too.

    Right on. I’ve always loved John the Baptist’s specific instructions in Luke 3. Here he’s been calling out the “brood of vipers” to repentance, with epic language. But what does that actually mean? It turns out it’s pretty simple: if you have more than you need, give to those who need it. If you’re collecting taxes – don’t take more than what you’re owed. If you’re a soldier – don’t intimidate or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages. The fruits worthy of repentance turn out to be pretty mundane – and yet that’s going to change the world. A business doesn’t have to be a charity to be doing good in the world. If every business operated on those principles of honesty and integrity, and gave something toward charitable causes, the world would be in far better shape.

  • Fortuna Veritas

    Just don’t use the funds of the company to finance hate groups or corrupt the political process, please.

  • Fortuna – Avalon Consulting, LLC does not make contributions to any political organizations. We consider political matters something to be left to individuals, not the company. There are a wide variety of political opinions within our walls and we celebrate that fact… The vast majority of our contributions fall into the “time and talent” category as opposed to cash, but we have made cash donations to ALSAC/St Jude’s and ManeGait Therapeutic Horsemanship, neither of which has any political leanings that we’re aware of, and each of which is dedicated to serving children with medical needs.